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Bring the War Home: The White Power Movement and Paramilitary America

by Kathleen Belew

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1766122,683 (4.13)1
The white power movement in America wants a revolution. It has declared all-out war against the federal government and its agents, and has carried out--with military precision--an escalating campaign of terror against the American public. Its soldiers are not lone wolves but are highly organized cadres motivated by a coherent and deeply troubling worldview of white supremacy, anticommunism, and apocalypse. In Bring the War Home, Kathleen Belew gives us the first full history of the movement that consolidated in the 1970s and 1980s around a potent sense of betrayal in the Vietnam War and made tragic headlines in the 1995 bombing of Oklahoma City. Returning to an America ripped apart by a war which, in their view, they were not allowed to win, a small but driven group of veterans, active-duty personnel, and civilian supporters concluded that waging war on their own country was justified. They unified people from a variety of militant groups, including Klansmen, neo-Nazis, skinheads, radical tax protestors, and white separatists. The white power movement operated with discipline and clarity, undertaking assassinations, mercenary soldiering, armed robbery, counterfeiting, and weapons trafficking. Its command structure gave women a prominent place in brokering intergroup alliances and bearing future recruits. Belew's disturbing history reveals how war cannot be contained in time and space. In its wake, grievances intensify and violence becomes a logical course of action for some. Bring the War Home argues for awareness of the heightened potential for paramilitarism in a present defined by ongoing war.--… (more)
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Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
Important, deeply researched for the timeframe she chooses to cover. Not a boffo dramatic read, but the people and the story are eye-opening, appalling, and very frightening. The scariest part is just how long these folks have been at this, the technology they have amassed, and the fact that the current iteration - as only the last of many over decades - is emerging as a public force, no longer just hunkered down in the woods of Idaho playing with their guns (and armored vehicles, and grenades, and C-4 plastic explosive, and in one case, enough cyanide to kill more people than have died of Covid in the US), but now marching down our streets with Congresscreatures in their pockets. I found the description of how these groups set up a communication system via "Liberty Net" before the internet was even a thing fascinating - they were decades ahead of Facebook, Parler and Gab. She plays fair by also tracing the intense militarization of the police and how it contributed to the atrocity of Ruby Ridge and the Waco debacle. For those of us waking up to the terrors and new prominence of the white power movement (her chosen term to encompass the Klan, Aryan Nations and other white supremacists, which eventually folded in the modern militias), this is a useful and cautionary work of history and background with an urgent currency. ( )
1 vote JulieStielstra | May 17, 2021 |
I've got about halfway through this during my last archive trip to DC, and haven't finished it yet because I got sidetracked with research, but it's a truly important book about the rise of white nationalism and the dangers of white supremacy. Kathleen is an incredible researcher and I highly recommend reading her work. ( )
  rjcrunden | Feb 2, 2021 |
This is such a heavy read I'm taking a break. Really well researched, though.
  rjcrunden | Feb 2, 2021 |
Great review of right-wing groups from various 20th century incarnations of the KKK (KKKK, CKKK, etc.), The Order, major influences such as the Turner Diaries and William Pierce, and the preeminent role of Vietnam in the White Power Movement (both in terms of combat background and the "stab in the back", similar to Hitlerian theories about WW1 which led to his rise). While I've read a lot about right (and left, and Islamic, and other) extremist groups, I hadn't appreciated the degree to which Vietnam was so central to these groups, even well into the 90s.

Interesting reading about early far right use of IT (Apple II-based BBSes like Aryan Nation's Liberty Net), gender roles in these groups (although the lens used by the author is leftist academic lolcowery, there's some truth to it), and just how horrible a lot of people and activities have been. Contrasting with the left, where successful actions seemed to lead to lasting success, and jihadi terrorism where 9/11 led to a dramatic over-response and escalation, the biggest "successful activity" of these groups seems to have been McVeigh's OKC bombing, an event which basically ended the movement. ( )
  octal | Jan 1, 2021 |
“What is inescapably clear from the history of the white power movement, however, is that the lack of public understanding, effective prosecution, and state action left an opening for continued white power activism. state and public opinion have failed to sufficiently halt white power violence or refute white power belief systems, and failed to present a vision of the future that might address some of the concerns that lie behind its more diffuse, coded, and mainstream manifestations.
“Understanding white power as a social movement is a project both of historical relevance and of vital public importance. Knowledge of the history of white power activism is integral to preventing future acts of violence and to providing vital context to current political developments. Indeed, to perceive the movement as a legitimate social force, and its ideolo gies as comprising a coherent worldview of white supremacy and imminent apocalypse—one with continued recruiting power—is to understand that colorblindness, multicultural consensus, and a postracial society were never achieved. Violent, outright racism and antisemitism were live currents in these decades, waiting for the opportunity to resurface in overt form. This story renders legible the many ways that racial ideology and incessant warfare have underwritten political issues that extend well beyond the fringe. It Powerfully reveals how white power rhetoric and activism, time and again, have influenced mainstream U.S. politics, and most especially in the aftermath of war.” P. 239 ( )
  dasam | Mar 19, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
The history of the white-power movement can reframe how we think of activists like this [Dylan Roof]. Thinking of people as people with an ideology, even if it’s something we don’t agree with, changes the way that we think about opposition. It discredits the idea of lone wolf operatives or single incidents with mad gunmen and calls on us to try to understand people’s own stated motivation, and to find the connections when they exist between different actions and between different groups.
added by elenchus | editslate.com, Rebecca Onion (Apr 11, 2018)
 
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The white power movement in America wants a revolution. It has declared all-out war against the federal government and its agents, and has carried out--with military precision--an escalating campaign of terror against the American public. Its soldiers are not lone wolves but are highly organized cadres motivated by a coherent and deeply troubling worldview of white supremacy, anticommunism, and apocalypse. In Bring the War Home, Kathleen Belew gives us the first full history of the movement that consolidated in the 1970s and 1980s around a potent sense of betrayal in the Vietnam War and made tragic headlines in the 1995 bombing of Oklahoma City. Returning to an America ripped apart by a war which, in their view, they were not allowed to win, a small but driven group of veterans, active-duty personnel, and civilian supporters concluded that waging war on their own country was justified. They unified people from a variety of militant groups, including Klansmen, neo-Nazis, skinheads, radical tax protestors, and white separatists. The white power movement operated with discipline and clarity, undertaking assassinations, mercenary soldiering, armed robbery, counterfeiting, and weapons trafficking. Its command structure gave women a prominent place in brokering intergroup alliances and bearing future recruits. Belew's disturbing history reveals how war cannot be contained in time and space. In its wake, grievances intensify and violence becomes a logical course of action for some. Bring the War Home argues for awareness of the heightened potential for paramilitarism in a present defined by ongoing war.--

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